Thursday, September 30, 2004


Here are some captions for pictures I took recently with my cellphone camera:

Outside lots of metro stations, motorcycle taxis wait to take one or two passengers to nearby destinations. At the station that I take back from my morning preschool these guys are particularly vivacious, waving and calling out to people with luggage as they exit the subway station. I think that's because there is a big bus station a short ride down the street.

Today we got off work a little early, and aren't going back to the office for seven days. Why? Because October 1st is the National Day holiday, when Chinese people get a week off of work to celebrate their own Fourth of July. Decorations are going up all over the place, including poof-balls, flags and lights around the sub-urban development where I teach in the mornings, big-character signs at schools and government offices, and double flags in the front windows of public buses. Good ol' nationalism at work.

Speaking of nationalism, I got a blurry picture of the flag-raising ceremony at the preschool, taken from the second floor. There's not much to say about this picture because it's so hard to make out the details, only to say that it's a huge pre-school with a two two-storied wings, and they are hiring a foreign teacher (me) to come in every day to teach their class, which is not cheap. I'm sure these two to five-year old students' parents are spending a hefty bit of cash on their education.

The funny thing about the picture of this wicker furniture guy is that I just saw the same thing today on my walk back from work: a humongous cart loaded with this kind of furniture, and the carter next to it resting. Only the guys I saw tonight had spread out blankets under the cart and were snoozing, while this guy had untied a chair from his load and was reading a book. What lead me to take the picture, and what the picture actually doesn't convey well, is the size of the load. It reminded me of the factoid that ants can carry so many times their body weight in mass.

One thing I've often considered collecting is pictures of the xiaoxin/dangxin pengtou (watch your head!) signs that grace escalator junctions all over China. At the Hongmei subway station, you have to take an escalator up to go over the tracks and reach the north-bound platform. As you rise to the second floor, there is a white hanging sign with red letters warning you to watch your head. There is also a second paper sign plastered just above the hanging sign, with the same warning message. These two signs, I can understand. But there is a third sign, another paper one, that I call the "warning of no return", because by the time you see this warning it's probably a little late to withdraw your head. I tried to capture this sign-of-no-return in this photo.


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